Local Legend Dr George Sawa in Toronto News

**As a bellydance enthusiast I have been a HUGE fan of Dr George Sawa since I ever heard of him.  I heard him play at the International Bellydance Conference of Canada 2008 and then I had the pleasure of meeting him at the Arabesque Pro-Course 2010 and have since developed a HUGE professional crush. He has a fondness for the historical and tranditional side of Egyptian music.  He is a master at the Qanun (one of my favorite Arabic instruments) and also Roula Said’s qanun teacher.  If you are a dancer, musician or a scholar Dr Sawa is an expert in ALL of these areas.  He contributes regularly through his various publications and is seen often performing with some of the best of the best in the World.  Dr Sawa also performs regularly with Alpharabius and The Traditional Arabic Music Ensemble.  Recently Dr Sawa opened for Egyptian pop star Hakim for Luminato!

Dr George Sawa Biography:

George Sawa was born in Alexandria, Egypt. He studied piano with Iren e Drakides, a student of Alfred Cortot, and at the Higher Institute of Arabic Music he studied voice, theory, and qanun (Arabic psaltery). His q anun teachers are Muhammad al-Sa‘duni (a student of Mustapha Bey Reda), Milad Mansur (a student of Abdel-Hamid al-Addabi), Amin Fahmi and Mustapha Kamel. After immigrating to Canada in 1970, he studied ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto, and obtained his doctorate in historical Arabic musicology at the Department of Middle Eastern Studies. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses on medieval, modern, and religious music of the Middle East at York University, and at the University of Toronto (1982-1995), and held the Noor Visiting Professorhip at York University (2006-2007).

Go to Dr Sawa’s website

He was has also developed the booklet and companion CD’s called “Egyptian Music Appreciation & Practise for Bellydancers” which is a MUST HAVE for any bellydancer!  He also has developed “The Art of the Early Egyptian Qanun Vol #1 & #2.
To purchase any of these items click this link

Recently several well known local newspapers have profiled Dr Sawa and various facets of his work that has shaped this vibrant Toronto Bellydance community.

Here are the excerpts:

From Toronto.com and as seen in the Toronto Star newspaper:
Egyptian music master flourishes in Toronto

By John Goddard
Staff Reporter
Jun 18, 2011

Toronto’s George Sawa, much praised as a medieval Egyptian music scholar, also enjoys a good dance tune.

He once applied his formidable research skills to reviving a 13th-century drum-notation system to teach local bellydancers rhythm.

Egyptian Music Appreciation and Practice for Bellydancers the book is called, complete with circular diagrams that visually explain beats to a bar.

“With this system, you can learn any rhythm within five seconds, guaranteed,” the author says.

Sawa performs free Saturday at Luminato. He opens for Cairene pop star Hakim on a bill also starring France-based Natacha Atlas — a program showcasing old and new Egyptian styles.

With most of his Traditional Arabic Music Ensemble, Sawa is to lay down the folkloric and classical roots of Egyptian music on acoustic instruments, leaving Atlas and Hakim to jump things up with electronica and other influences.

Read the full article here

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail website and newspaper:

My Books, My Place

George Sawa’s medieval times

From Saturday’s Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Jun. 17, 2011 3:30PM EDT

After having my two cups of strong coffee and reading The Globe and Mail in the morning, I go to my bedroom/music room/office and start reading The Book of Songs of al-Isbahani (d. 967 AD). The room overlooks my backyard and vegetable garden, and my neighbor’s fruit trees. It is a very quiet and therapeutic place to delve back into the lives and works of medieval poets and musicians, which al-Isbahani painstakingly documented over a period of 50 years, thanks to the patronage of an enlightened court in Baghdad.

This monumental anthology, approximately 10,000 pages, is the highest achievement in Arabic music literature, a gold mine about music in its socio-cultural and economic contexts. We gain insights into the uses of songs to punctuate daily life, the musicians’ own language and metaphors to evaluate their compositions and performances in terms originality and excellence, and the amazing fortunes musicians amassed. The editors of the anthology were not music scholars, therefore many technical terms remain unexplained. For this reason I have been working on a dictionary of musical and socio-cultural terms to fill this gap.

Read the full article here